1.27.2006

*Mark Kozelek/Modest Mouse/Hate Mail

You may (or may not) have heard about Mark Kozelek's newest album Tiny Cities, a "reworking" of 11 Modest Mouse tunes. At first listen, it's a cute idea. After a few more, one may question "What the hell was this guy thinking?". Now to emotionally deal with the fact that this album was officially released is one thing, but to run into an article praising the album is another. His name: Wallace Baine. At 12 in the morning I questioned one thing: which is more important, getting some rest or letting this guy have it? My answer is as follows (I'm embarrassed. I didn't proofread this before I sent it):

Dear Mr. Baine,
I recently read your article regarding Mark Kozelek, and was slightly appalled at the idea you would consider him a "master song interpreter". I've listened to Kozelek for a number of years from Red House Painters, to Sun Kil Moon, to his "solo" albums. I'll admit, the reworkings of AC/DC songs into folkesque tunes were a nice surprise, but even those got old once the novelty wore off. That's all this album is, novelty. Everyone I know loved Tiny Cities the first time they heard it. Why? Because it seemed like a neat idea. Then slowly but surely, after a few more listens, they were all sick of the slaughtering that took place. Slowly picked chords over monotonously sung lyrics will do that to a song: kill it. If you really think about it, any musician could do this. Figure out new chords to a song and sing it a little differently. I do it. For fun. As a novelty. This album grows more and more embarrassing at every listen. Maybe it's the fact I've grown up in Issaquah, Washington...home of who else? Modest Mouse. A band who has been admired by my entire family, and has been connected with even on a personal level. To hear Issac Brock's beautifully original pieces thrown carelessly around is an atrocity. Besides the idea of these (mis)interpretations, you seem to be amazed at the idea he tried to pull of their songs as his own, to see a reaction. Not a very gutsy move. He knew if he just went in saying, "here, I made another cover album" they'd be turning him around and sending him out the door. Sure it's neat that he loves Modest Mouse. Sure he can be influenced by them. No one has to stop that. At least try and use that influence as fuel, not as means of counterfeiting. I'm thoroughly disappointed with Kozelek's attempt. This "album" hardly deserves mediocre praise, but to call him a master interpreter is just plain blasphemous. Put that album back on and hit repeat. You'll hate it too.
Thanks,
-Jon


I'll be sure to post his response (if any) as soon as possible. I'll admit it was sort of a dick move commenting on what someone likes and thinks, but seriously folks, in my opinion this album is awful. I know there are some die hard Kozelek fans out there, and I'm sure I'll get some crap over this, but this album truly does not do any of the original versions justice.

Let me include a quote off Pitchfork Media to hammer my opinion down:

"
These tracks are botched experiments that can't even function as interesting failures."

read the rest of pitchfork's (3.0 rated) review here.


Brock's Beauty:
Modest Mouse - "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes"

Mark's Misinterpretation:
Sun Kil Moon - "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes"

3 comments:

Lizzy said...

Bummer, i'm crazy about Kozelek.

Jake said...

You’re absolutely right it’s a dick move. So the guy likes an album that you don’t--so what? I never cease to be amazed at the lengths to which some people will go to proclaim their dislike for something--all that time and energy that could be spent liking something. The idea that you literally lost sleep because someone, somewhere, was committing the heinous transgression of enjoying music points to a pretty sad existence indeed.

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